You certainly will start considering it after watching this anime. “It” refers to ballroom dancing, and the anime is Ballroom e Youkoso (Welcome to the Ballroom). It is time for you to start appreciating that competitive sport technical and ethereal side offering with art.
What happened so far in Ballroom E Youkoso
Tatara Fujita, a meek and shy middle schooler, yearns for something more in his life. But his lack of ambition, wallflower status and grey outlook on his own perspectives are keeping the young man rooted in the same spot. Until that one fateful day when he is saved from getting extorted for the umpteenth time by a stranger. The man introduces himself as Kaname Sengoku, the dance instructor and champion ballroom dancer. He invites Tatara to his dance studio and the young man, entranced by Sengoku’s presence and talent, sees a burgeoning interest for ballroom dancing blossom in him.
Tatara starts taking beginner’s classes and is soon able to enter a real competition when Shizuku Hanoka’s -a talented prodigy and fellow classmate who practices at the studio too- partner breaks his leg. It is no smooth sailing, but after being in the limelight for the first time and getting a taste of real competitiveness on the dancefloor, Tatara now knows that his future will be built on ballroom dancing. A powerful drive lit in his heart, the young man is ready to defy all expectations and completely throws himself into his newfound passion.
What is going on with Production I.g.?
Ballroom e Youkoso premiered on July 8, 2017 and ended on December 17, 2017 after 24 episodes. It is directed by Yoshimi Itazu, written by Kenichi Suemitsu and the soundtrack is composed by Yuki Hayashi.
Do not misunderstand: Ballroom e Youkoso IS a sports anime, not a shoujo. Yuri on Ice started walking so that Ballroom e Youkoso could run. Both use niches with no representation in the anime/manga industry considering the difficulty one would find conveying physical intensity while sharing feelings and emotions in a balanced manner. That and the intricacies of the movements in ice skating and ballroom dancing. As sports anime, there are still codes to follow through.
Ballroom e Youkoso the manga succeeds, with its beautiful art and panels full of dramatic perspectives. Ballroom e Youkoso the anime tries, with its beautiful character design, above average animation and lack of proper dancing. The issue here is that you do not get to see much actual choreography. For an anime focusing on dancingThe anime authorizes himself 5-10s of real, animated and vivacious dancing during routines, but otherwise it heavily relies on still shots and reutilisation (the shot of Tatara’s and his huge smile when enjoying the moment is literally the same everywhere).
You are introduced to the technical terms and get an explanation, but like… Can I see it in action, too, every time? Not just the one time for demonstration. And that is a bit of an issue here and the reason why one has to understand the category BeY is under: the main element in this story is not the characters, but ballroom dancing. It is around this sport that the cast interacts, grows up and emotes. It is the reason, not the excuse in the background used to craft new situations. Therefore, as a main character itself, the dancing should be shown in action, with movement. Yuri on Ice did it fabulously, but just looking at classic sports anime like Captain Tsubasa, Haikyuu, Yowamushi Pedal or Free, you quickly see the difference.
It is Production I.G. after all, pioneers and titans: the animation is gorgeous in normal scenes as per usual with the studio, so it is a shame they did not dedicate as much work on the most important moments of the story. Now, if you keep your ears on the pulse of anime production, you know the difficulties Yuri on Ice had to achieve the final product: with 48.50 key animators/episode and 8.75 different animation directors, the struggle was real. Considering a studio works on a new episode each week and under pressure, Production I.G. and their choice to cut corners can be understandable.
However, the staff tangoed their way through different ways to express the feverish delight on the dancefloor. Anime is an art and art is supposed to find, reinvent and create new styles of expression. As previously pointed, BeY is a sports anime and if you thought the topic was not inviting enough for some good ole nekketsu, try again: while the ladies serenely smile in their beautiful gowns and jewellery (no seriously, the outfits are fantastic), ecstasy and joie de vivre plastered on their faces, the gentlemen are as fired up as one can be: exaggerated lines, deformed faces, eyes widely open with dilated pupils. It is intense. The still shots end up in dramatic poses with an accent on the physicality of the scene.
BeY accentuates the arched curves of the dancers, giving them elongated necks, arms and torso to add to the histrionic visuals (both physical attributes considered to be ideal in that field). Sweat slowly dripping down their neck, their face, their back. Sweat projected around as they twirl around, always moving, never setting for one spot, bursting into flames, blooming in the arms of their partners, etc. The last episode will keep you glued on your chair: Production I.G. ended the story with a bang, making sure to enforce the point that it is not that they do not know how to animate those scenes, it is that logistics and time impeded their work.
The characters are easy to relate to and come off pretty human, meaning that the viewers can actually differentiate them and recognize their personality. Plus, the way the interactions between each of them are nicely crafted, tuned to their nature as individuals. Tatara is our classic shounen/sports main character: bottom of the barrel, with a skill or two that help him (here, his ability to quickly absorb visual information), but not enough to transform him into a super powerful/talented protagonist. He actually has to work on his body as he is shorter and skinnier than the typical dancer. The fact that he starts as a blank canvas facilitates our journey alongside him as we get to properly see all the steps he goes through to realize his ambition.
An ambition that might sound feeble to some (craving attention and finding something to attach himself to), but when you realize that Tatara had nothing going for him, you can only cheer for him for he has found a way to improve himself and his self-esteem. The supporting characters are as important because, remember, you need two people to dance a tango. And it would be best if you humiliated’ in the middle of a waltz. BeY mirrors the cast’s relationships through dancing and their love for it. Mako Akagi suffers from not being able to dance with her brother, admonishing herself for not being talented enough. Gaju Akagi, Mako’s brother, will not hesitate to jump on the first occasion to become Shizuku’s partner for the sole reason that it has always been his dream, forgetting to consider his sister’s feelings. Shizuku herself learns that her status as a prodigy does not mean that she has the right to be condescending to others when dance is involved. Chinatsu Hiyama will learn the importance of accepting changes and that relying on someone else in dancing is not a weakness. There is something to be learned and appreciated with each character, a fragile balance in a sport that requires them to yield some of their intimacy to their partner. Such a concept is illustrated in episode 9 when Tatara and Mako dance together and he compares their dancing to a painting, him being the frame and Mako the flower.
Production I.G. is working on Fena: Princess Pirate (a collaboration with Crunchyroll and Adult Swim), with an OVA (Moriarty the Patriot), ONA (an untitled Terminator series) and a movie (The Deer King) already announced, but with no due date.
What do we know about Ballroom E Youkoso Season 2 so far?
It does not look like Season 2 is or will be on the table.
Firstly, the manga is really slow due to the mangaka’s numerous health issues. Her condition is so serious that at the time the anime was produced, she had to tell the staff how the arc was ending since Production I.G. was actually ahead of the original medium. Waiting for enough content to be produced for S2 is bound to take years.
Secondly, the anime was well liked but did not generate numbers big enough to warrant a new season years after Season 1.
What are fans saying about Ballroom E Youkoso Season 2?
Ballroom e Youkoso has a small community. The anime was very much anticipated and it received a lot of positive reactions. As per usual with series adapted from manga, when the audience decided to start the manga right where the anime ended, imagine their surprise to discover that the show was ahead of the source and that the mangaka was often sick. That factor and the slow pace of the manga are preventing the title from gaining a bigger fandom.
However, the small community is loyal and sticks to the manga. The fans did not really engage in conversations about Season 2 as they are well aware of the circumstances. The subreddit is active (and is the best place to keep up to date with the manga), several recent posts can be found on Twitter with new watchers and old heads promoting the show. BeY has above average grades across the board ( MAL, Anilist, IMDB).
Will there be Ballroom E Youkoso Season 2?
The manga is written and illustrated by Tomo Takeuchi and started its run on November 5, 2011. It is still ongoing and has 10 volumes. Before the author’s health started deteriorating in 2016, the manga received several accolades, scoring nice spots in ranking and surveys, and selling well. Anime Limited licensed the title in the UK on Blu-ray in 2019 and 2020. Both were Collector’s Editions.
Showing that the anime was popular enough in its time, Ballroom e Youkoso generated a decently sized merchandising. Sakuga, plushies, keychains, straps, towels, hair-ties, etc. The selection is really not bad! And a lot of items are still available. Reflecting the reality of the franchise, Google Trends indicates regular periods where the graph reaches zero, to later go back up (barely). That could be the result of newcomers looking for more material to consume.
When will Ballroom E Youkoso Season 2 be released?
No date available as of yet.
What can we expect in Season 2 of Ballroom E Youkoso?
Objectively, that might never happen for all the reasons above. But the manga is still ongoing and has caught up by now. The relationship between Chinatsu and Tatara is slowly evolving as all our dancers continue to strive to do better and new competitions point their noses.